The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has called out against the introduction of blanket restrictions on travel, as witnessed in recent days. This call echoes the concerns raised by UNWTO members during the UNWTO general assembly, held this week in Spain.
Countries from all global regions expressed their solidarity with southern African states, calling for the immediate lifting of travel bans imposed on specific countries and for freedom of international travel to be upheld.
In light of recent developments, UNWTO has once again reminded countries that the imposition of blanket restrictions on travel is discriminatory, ineffective and contrary to WHO recommendations. Blanket restrictions may also stigmatise countries or whole regions. During the UNWTO general assembly, members states and partners, including voices from international organisations and across the private sector, echoed WHO advice that travel restrictions should only be imposed as a very last resort in response to changing circumstances.
Furthermore, it was stressed that if restrictions are introduced, they must be proportionate, transparent and scientifically based. They must also only be introduced with a full appreciation of what halting international travel would mean for the most vulnerable, including those developing countries and individuals who depend on tourism for their economies and livelihoods.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, UNWTO has called for coordinated and evidence-based approaches to balancing public health concerns with keeping the lifeline of tourism intact.
Over recent months, such an approach has been shown to be the most effective way forward.